Disabled people and the environmental crises

How Disabled people want charities and government to respond to the climate and nature crises: Findings from deliberation groups with the people most impacted

Environmental crises don’t affect us all in the same way; some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people are likely to be worst affected.​

As part of our Everyone’s Environment programme of work, in the summer of 2023, NPC and partners met with young people, people from ethnic minority communities, Disabled people, and older people across the UK, to find out how the environmental crises are affecting their lives and what they want charities and policy makers to do next.​

We spoke to 63 Disabled people across four deliberation groups discussed how climate impacts were already threatening their ability to live the lives they’d like.

What Disabled people say

  • Disabled people already cannot live the lives that they want and are already experiencing the impacts of the climate and nature crises.​
  • Disabled people see opportunities for policies to improve their quality of life and benefit the environment, and want to be involved in shaping these solutions.​
  • Disabled people urgently need accessible communication from government on environmental crises.

What Disabled people want charities to do

  • Disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and disability charities should help Disabled people advocate for their rights in relation to environmental impacts and government policy responses.​
  • DPOs and charities should ensure information on environmental crises and policy are accessible.​
  • DPOs and charities should help Disabled people to manage the impacts of the environmental crises on their health and wellbeing.


Find out more about the Everyone's Environment programme of work

Everyone's Environment

What do different social groups have in common?

This document is one of four published in September 2023, each exploring the input from a different social group: young people, Disabled people, older people and people from ethnic minority communities. Many of our focus groups were attended by people who fall into more than one group. As such, charities should be mindful of the needs that are shared between groups: 

  • All of the groups we spoke to wanted charities to support them to advocate for action on the environmental crises.Young people and older people felt that the government isn’t doing enough, and older people, Disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities do not feel that their voices are heard by policy makers.
  • All of the groups wanted charities to extend their existing support to help them respond to the environmental crises, which many felt were already impacting their lives.The focus of this differed by group: for example, young people wanted support on mental health, whereas older people and Disabled people wanted specific support with the health impacts of the environmental crises.
  • Many of the groups also raised a need for better information and education about environmental impacts, policy responses, and the actions that individuals can take. 

Policy makers should be mindful of the priorities that are shared between groups: 

  • Transport is a policy priority for all groups, though specific solutions varied between the groups.Many groups (older people, Disabled people and people from ethnic minority communities) highlighted the need for transport infrastructure to be more accessible, and for greater subsidy for those on low incomes. 
  • All groups thought that government policy needed to balance regulation with increased subsidies.
  • Other than transport, policy priorities varied:
    • Young people and people from ethnic minority communities shared priorities around renewable energy, as well as about investment in green jobs and skills.
    • Older people and people from ethnic minority communities shared priorities around housing.
    • Disabled people prioritised environmental policies that protect household income and acknowledge the increased costs faced by Disabled people in responding to environmental impacts. 

In partnership with

Disability Rights UK

Other deliberation group findings